MILLCREEK Sheriff's investigators Thursday served a search warrant on an Internet cafe that detectives said was actually a front for computer gambling.
Investigators arrived at Mouse Pad, 749 E. 3300 South, just after 12:30 p.m., shut down the business and seized more than 30 computers.
For the past month, detectives conducted an undercover operation, said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Paul Jaroscak.
A sign inside the business Thursday advertised rates to use the Internet at $20 per hour. "That's ten times what you would see anywhere else," Jaroscak said.
The undercover detectives would buy a card, or credit, to use on their computer. Then they would play a gambling game such as Keno or video slots, he said. Winners would be paid in cash at the counter. In at least one instance, an investigator won $14.
But the business also had a board keeping track of its biggest winners, some of them "in the thousands of dollars," Jaroscak said.
Computers and "anything we think is evidence" was seized from the business, Jaroscak said, adding that it was interesting to note the Internet business did not have any printers.
The business averaged only four to five customers at a time, Jaroscak said. But the large majority were all repeat customers.
In November, KSL-TV aired an investigative report on several Internet cafes throughout Salt Lake County where patrons would buy Internet time or phone cards but then have the opportunity to win money. One of those places was the Mouse Pad.
An employee told KSL in November what was happening was legal. "We give 'em phone time. They actually get a phone card. That's what they're paying for, and then they can play our sweepstakes."
Jaroscak said possible money laundering charges were also being investigated.No arrests were made Thursday. The evidence will be turned over to the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office to determine what, if any, charges to file, Jaroscak said.
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